BMW R75/5 – Josh Withers
June 22, 2013
If you’re like me, and many other custom bike riders out there, you’ve had to face the rather daunting task of getting that dream bike out of your head and into the skillful hands of your chosen builder. There’s probably as many ways to do this as there are custom bikes on the road. Photoshop, sketches, emails – why, I bet there’s a guy somewhere who’s described his ideal two-wheeled vision using his deft mime skills. But if you’re taking sheer cool efficiency as a means of judging the best brief, then Shane Balkowitsch’s ‘make it match my ’65 Porsche’ really takes the cake. And that’s just the brief that Sothern Californian Josh Withers received when he decided to take on the classic BMW build of a lifetime.
Here’s Josh. “I was just coming off the high of my second ‘frame off, down to the crank’ airhead restoration when I got a random call from a guy in North Dakota. We got to chatting, and he quickly revealed his interest in having me do a custom motorcycle for him just like my latest build. Due to the internet and a few magazine articles, my bright blue 1973 R60/5 toaster cafe conversion was attracting attention from all over the world, and now from this guy ‘Shane’. In this first conversation with Shane, I prefaced that I was not a professional mechanic and I work out of the garage of my humble Southern California home. He was understanding of that, put his faith in me, and thus our project and friendship began.”
“Before I knew it, I had not one but two R75/5 motorcycles in my garage.”
“Within a month of starting, we found a carcass of a 1972 R75/5 for $600. It was in really bad shape. Broken rod, wiring was a mess with extra lights and switches drilled in the headlight and many other parts were missing, broken or downright bastardized. As I met the seller in the California desert, took the bike out of his pickup truck, began to take it apart to load it into my station wagon, a stranger walked up and asked if I would be interested in another R75. Considering I already had one halfway into my car, I laughed him off at first, but then we got to talking. I soon learned that he lived nearby and had a warehouse full of motorcycles. His R75/5 was a complete bike but hadn’t run in twenty years, had no title, yet he was asking $400. I had to check it out and before I knew it, I had not one but two 1972 R75/5 motorcycles in my garage.”
- CATEGORY Media